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Senior Hunger Action Month in MD

PHOTO: Thousands of Maryland seniors will take part in a tele-town hall today to learn how about the availability of food assistance.
PHOTO: Thousands of Maryland seniors will take part in a tele-town hall today to learn how about the availability of food assistance.
February 26, 2013

BALTIMORE - One in five older Marylanders has trouble stretching a limited budget to put food on the table. That factoid is part of the Senior Hunger Action Month designation for February, and there's a tele-town hall meeting today to explain what help is available.

According to Jen Holz, outreach director for AARP Maryland, senior participation in the Food Supplement Program is low, even though the need is high.

"We did some research and we found the number of 50-plus adults suffering from food insecurity increased by 80 percent. It was a really staggering number," Holz said.

Cathy Demeroto, the director of Maryland Hunger Solutions, said there are several reasons why senior participation rates in the Food Supplement Program are low. Some people just don't know about the program, don't think they'll qualify, or think they'll have to go to an office and stand in line just to apply. Demeroto explained that it can all be done over the phone - but another stumbling block is pride, and that has to be acknowledged.

"You know, they've contributed their whole lives," Demeroto said. "They've worked and paid taxes, and that these social safety net programs are here for people faced with difficult times."

She says assistance may also be available through the Maryland Food Bank.

The tele-town hall begins at 10 a.m., with a focus on seniors in Garrett, Cecil, Harford, Frederick, Montgomery and Somerset counties. Seniors will be called in those counties and asked if they want to join the call. Others interested in finding out about benefits, such as the Food Supplement Program, can contact the Maryland Department of Human Resources.

About 280 seniors attended Senior Hunger Action Day in Elkton Monday to learn about available assistance.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD